Emilio Delgado: 5 Things To Know About The ‘Sesame Street’ Actor Who Died At 81

Emilio Delgado died at 81 after two years of battling cancer. Here's everything you need to know about the late 'Sesame Street' actor.

Emilio Delgado
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Image Credit: Everett Collection/Richard Termine

Emilio Delgado has died at 81 years old. He passed away after battling blood cancer multiple myeloma for two years. He’s best known for starring on Sesame Street, and the children’s show’s company left him a heartwarming tribute on Twitter. “Emilio Delgado, who played Luis on Sesame Street, passed away on March 10, 2022,” Sesame Workshop wrote on Twitter. “A beloved member of the Sesame family for over 50 years, his warmth and humor invited children to share a friendship that has echoed through generations. At the forefront of representation, Emilio proudly laid claim to the ‘record for the longest-running role for a Mexican-American in a TV series.’ We are so grateful he shared his talents with us and with the world.”

1. Emilio Played Fix-it Shop Owner Luis On ‘Sesame Street’

Emilio Delgado
Emilio Delgado and the cast of ‘Sesame Street.’ (Everett Collection/Richard Termine)

Emilio played a fan-favorite character, Luis Rodriguez. Luis ran the fix-it shop as a handyman and was also an aspiring writer. His character joined the show a couple of years into it in 1971. Not only did he help the monsters solve problems that arose but the character served as a positive representation of the Puerto Rican and Mexican communities in a time when that wasn’t very prominent. His character was in a relationship and eventually got married to Maria, played by Sonia Manzano. Contrary to popular belief, the two weren’t married in real life. He was married three times and is survived by Carole Delgado, to whom he was still married before his passing. Emilio ended his impressive run on Sesame Street in 2015.

2. Emilio Was Also A Stage Actor

Emilio’s talent was showcased on many platforms as he also had quite an extensive career on the stage. In fact, he was an understudy for the Broadway production of Two Gentlemen of Verona. He also performed at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, INTAR Theatre, Round House Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Source and as King Claudius at the Asolo Repertory Theatre. Not to mention, he has graced the stages of the Hollywood Bowl and Carnegie Hall as the guest singer of a band called Pink Martini.

His most recent on-stage performance was as leading role Quixote Nuevo in four different cities, “We’re devastated to hear about the loss of the brilliant Emilio Delgado,” tweeted the California Shakespeare Theater. It was a true honor to have him grace our stage in Quixote Nuevo in 2018.”

3. Emilio Got His Big Break On A Soap Opera

Emilio Delgado
Emilio Delgado with Bert and Ernie. (Everett Collection/Richard Termine)

Emilio had many TV credits to his name but he got his first from the Los Angeles-based Mexican-American soap opera Cancion de la Raza. The show only ran for one season in 1969 but it may have worked out for the best because he found himself on Sesame Street two seasons either. Some of his other TV credits include Cannon, Police Story, Hawaii Five-O, Person of Interest, House of Cards and The Get Down.

4. Emilio Was An Advocate For Social Justice

Emilio was as passionate about social justice as he was about performing. The Sesame Street actor served on the board of directors at New York City’s Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice. The center prides itself as a safe space for the LGTBQIA community. On his bio for the site, he gushed about how much he enjoys being a part of the center. “I am so very inspired by the mission & community-building of the Bayard Rustin Center For Social Justice & how the diversity & cooperation that Sesame Street built is now being carried forth into the future by the good works of the BRCSJ,” he wrote. “So very glad that Luis has found a nuevo hogar aqui~ ¡pa’lante!”

5. Emilio Has A Day Named After Him

Emilio had plenty of accolades to his name but perhaps the coolest is that he has a whole day named after him. In 2019, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio declared October 15th “Emilio Delgado Day” in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. On top of that, Emilio has been recognized with The Impact Award 2000 from the National Hispanic Media Coalition, The HOLA Ilka Award in 2005 and the Daytime Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award in celebration of Sesame Street’s 40th anniversary.

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